Women in Motion panel discussion at ATA conference

Recruiting and retaining higher numbers of female truck drivers has, in recent years, been an industry-wide goal for trucking. The industry’s commitment to this goal has created real results, one of which is the female voices that were platformed and listened to at the most recent American Trucking Associations’ (ATA) Management Conference & Exhibition, as reported by Truckers Report.

Women in Motion is an initiative led by women in the trucking industry to amplify female truck drivers’ voices and stories. Cari Baylor, president of Baylor Trucking, spoke on the efforts of the initiative.

“None of us are here are looking for a participation trophy,” Baylor said. “Women in Motion has the ability, with (American Trucking Associations) and all of its member companies, to create and highlight stories that inspire, so women can aspire. It’s important to highlight the great leadership so that they can build hopes and ambitious career paths.”

The ATA created Women in Motion to tackle the gender imbalance historically present in the trucking industry. Before recruitment numbers for women can increase, the issues and obstacles female truck drivers face must be addressed. Women in Motion is committed to being transparent on such issues and uses panel discussions like the one at the ATA conference to showcase this transparency.

As honest conversations are sought out and encouraged, female recruitment and retention rates in trucking increase. This is especially vital as the U.S. trucking shortage is nearing toward 80,000.

“We’re missing out on the tremendous talent pool if we’re not intentional about bringing more women into the workforce,” said Tamara Jalving, vice president of safety at Yellow. “And we can’t afford that.”

While many fleets have taken steps to evolve their policies to being gender-inclusive and acknowledgement has spread that women are valuable in the truck driving field, for real change to happen there must be trucking industry leaders who are women. The Women in Motion panel worked to produce exactly that.

“I feel like sometimes because it isn’t really normal for a woman to be behind a truck that people are really watching what I’m doing,” said Tina Peterson, Red Pine Transport truck driver. “Sometimes that gets uncomfortable. But then I think about the little girls that are watching me do it, or maybe I can inspire another woman to see that women do this.”